EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

Video and Photos

paint
paint
ecuador
ecuador
friends for life
friends for life
Medical Rotation
Medical Rotation
Pujili community
Pujili community
OR Rotation in PAS hospital in Quito
OR Rotation in PAS hospital in Quito
Giant Tortoise that is native to the Galapagos
Giant Tortoise that is native to the Galapagos
Volunteer site in Pujili
Volunteer site in Pujili

About

Help, Learn and Discover is a student-driven volunteer organization that offers four week Pre-medical and Volunteer programs in Ecuador. These programs provide students with three main opportunities: to Help those less fortunate, to Learn first-hand knowledge about the medical field, and to Discover the amazing diversity of Ecuador. In the Help component, students use fundraised money to participate in a specific large-scale volunteer project. For example, in 2012 we built 21 homes for underprivileged families in a rural community called Pallatanga.

Students work alongside local families and are able to see the homes develop while integrating themselves into the community. In the optional Learn component, students shadow leading doctors and health professionals through eight different wards in a hospital setting.

We conclude the program with the Discover component, where students embark on an 11-day tour through the jungles, rainforests, highlands and beaches of Ecuador.

Questions & Answers

Most of our students are 18+. However, we have had students under 18 that need their parents to co-sign their contract.

Reviews

97%
based on 231 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 31 - 45 of 231
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Sara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Trip of my life

Over the month of May we went to Ecuador and stayed for two weeks in the town of Quito to do medical rotations. During those two weeks we got to do medical rotations everyday and it was the most amazing experience of my life. We got to see a knee replacement surgery, a C-section, a gall bladder removal surgery and various others while being inside the operating room. Our tutors could answer any questions we had and the doctors would also explain their process which was fantastic. At the hotel, we would eat great breakfast everyday and I felt very safe all the time. During the two weeks we rotated through the ER, OR, the sports medicine department, gastro, and internal medicine. Although the program was very focused academically, we were also able to do fun things like visit the old town, go to the Otavalo market and also to apply what we learned to hands on experiences such as learning how to do stitches, how to make a cast, and how to draw blood. The lectures were usually 3 hours long but very interesting and interactive. I learned a great deal. More than I expected.

After the two weeks when we started to go around the other parts of Ecuador I had the best time in the world as we went to amazing places. Juan and Jose always made sure that we were safe and that we had fun. It was great because the schedule was always flexible and they wanted to hear our input as to how everyone felt about doing a certain activity. So everyone was always happy. We went to the Amazon rainforest, swing at the end of the world, and other unique locations. The volunteer portion was amazing as we got to lay the foundation for houses in the community along side the people who were going to live there with their families and we became their friends. It was great to have the opportunity to communicate with those people and their children and I could feel the impact of our work there everyday.

Overall, this was the best month of my life and I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to have a life changing experience over the summer. I already miss my friends and all the people who work with HLD and I am thankful to have been a part of this experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Some hotels did not have hot water, such as the hotel we stayed in at Pujili to do volunteer work. However, I still found it manageable as we always went to new locations. Also, it did not matter if we needed anything or forgot to bring anything from home as they always took us to a mall to get the things we needed. So I was always happy and comfortable during the trip.
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Elizabeth
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fun But I Expected More

After reading online reviews for HLD, I was super excited to go on this trip. However, in the end I was somewhat disappointed with my experience.

Help - The volunteering portion of the trip was an overall good experience. Due to the earthquake we could not get to Jama to build the houses, so we built them in Manta instead. It was really hot in Manta, and the location we built the houses was a fish factory, so it was pretty smelly. Due to being in Manta, we didn't have much opportunity to interact with the families much like groups in past years did, so that was a little disappointing. I felt like that would add to the experience, however there wasn't much we could do about it. We did get to visit some of the victims of the earthquake in a nearby refugee camp. We played with the children and played soccer. Some portions of the construction of the houses was sketchy. We had to stand on rusty barrels to reach higher areas when working, which personally made me uncomfortable. We definitely lost a lot of productivity because we were constantly drilling through the metal on the shipping containers and breaking drill bits. During this week we ended up sleeping in tents and we only had one shower and toilet for the group. We got very dirty and sweaty at the construction site, so this was obviously a bit of an issue. They also hire some workers to do a lot of the work. We got to go to the beach twice during this week which was nice.

Learn - I completed the physiotherapy program, which was new for this year. There were definitely a lot of kinks to be worked out. I was the only pre-physiotherapy student, so I was often left alone to find my way through the hospital and to buy my food for supper, which was difficult because I know zero Spanish. The physiotherapist I worked with was great, he taught me a lot. However he only came into work in the afternoons, so I only got to complete approximately 4 hours per day. I lost one day to the sports medicine rotation and one day to traveling on the Friday afternoon, so I only completed 3 days with the physio for a total of ~12 hours. I was expecting something more like a 40 hour work week to gain experience for when I apply to physiotherapy school, but I was wrong. I was thrown in with the pre-med students for the rest of the time, which some of the stuff like surgeries were cool, however most of it was boring to me (I don't want to be a doctor) and/or didn't apply to me. I would have preferred more physio experience. I had to write the test for the pre-med students on a case study about headaches, which I didn't enjoy at all. I didn't want to come here to study and google headaches, I wanted to go to learn hands-on skills and gain experience to help me get into physio school. No alcohol was permitted during the med rotation week, just an FYI.

Discover - This was my favourite portion of the trip. We got to hike in the amazon, go tubing in rapids, hike to a waterfall, go on the swing at the end of the world, rappel down a waterfall, among other things. Some of the stops were less exciting than others; two of them we basically went and sat in hot tubs. Most of the other participants wanted to stay up late and drink while on the discover portion of the trip. I wasn't into that as much because we had long and early bus rides (hangover? no thanks...), and some days with physically exerting hikes. The owners of HLD encourage drinking and drinking games to some degree. I was more interested in enjoying my time and seeing the country.

Other points:
-You'll spend some time playing and/or watching soccer. Soccer and volleyball are both really popular in Ecuador.
-Be prepared for long bus rides. Make sure to have music playlists ready and any other ideas to pass time.
-We got a HLD hoodie and t-shirt given to us part way through the trip. Bring lots of clothes! The only place to do laundry was at the hostel in Quito. You had to give your bag of laundry to the people to wash it, it took a day or two, and was a bit expensive (like $10 or $15 I think?).
-Although speaking Spanish is not required, I found it difficult during the med rotations when I wanted to communicate with the patients. All of the tutors speak English.
-Make sure you have lots of room in your bag going back. Alpaca wool blankets are inexpensive and popular at the markets there. I bought two blankets and a hammock to bring back.
-Bring lots of sunscreen and bug spray!!!!!!

Overall I enjoyed my experience, but I wanted to be truthful about the components I didn't enjoy about the trip.

What would you improve about this program?
-Like others said, the lack of communication before the trip could be improved. I found they also started the fundraising meetings pretty last minute, although they weren't helpful in my opinion anyway.
-I was also a little concerned about where all of my money was going. We were originally supposed to stay in a hostel during the volunteer week, but we ended up sleeping in tents as a described above. We had to pay for our own dinners, as well as some other optional activities. We took a long bus ride to Manta, while the owners of HLD flew in from Quito for a few days. They wanted to get back in time for a birthday party or something, so they flew back the night before we bussed back to Quito. I hope we weren't paying for them to fly there. Some transparency would have been nice.
-There were a few times during a morning or afternoon, or even a whole day on one occasion where they basically said to hang out at the hostel and watch TV. I would have liked to do more things instead. Bernie, our trip leader, fought to get us to do more fun things but the owners didn't want us to. During the med rotations week they were worried about us not having enough time to study.
-I personally found one of the owners of HLD to be overly egotistical and it really got on my nerves.
-The itinerary that is shown on their website before the trip was way off. We got a more accurate one when we got there, however, it would have been nice to have an accurate itinerary before we got to Ecuador.
-There were other guests at the hostel that were quite noisy and there were no staff there at night to do anything about it.
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Taylor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

H-H-H-L-D, H-L-D in Manabi

That is the chant that will never go away, the one I will always go to and think about when times get tough or I just need to think of Ecuador, it's people and the dream that was implemented, chased and accomplished by one individual years ago.
First, I owe an apology to Jose, Sum and all of those at H-L-D for taking so long to write this... you have been in my thoughts, wifi access has denied me though.
The trip overall took my breath away. Ecuador is a beautiful country with beautiful, kind people- that have little but are willing to give everything.
I had dreamed about an opportunity like this since I was little- the chance to go somewhere and help. H-L-D made my dream come true. You work hard and you play hard. All the while you meet new people from around the world- or some that could almost live next door. EcuaExperience brings those with similar beliefs and motives together, making it easy to blend and have the time of your life.
If you can do this trip- do it! Regardless of the cost- which is reasonable- an unforgettable experience is priceless and memories are forever.
Thank you for H-L-D, Jose, leaders- and one last note.... CONGRATS FOR TEACHING THE MILLION!!!!!! Wooooo hoooo :)

What would you improve about this program?
Wouldn't change a thing!
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Ghoncheh
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD- best time of my life!!

When I was looking to volunteer abroad I wanted a program that encompasses many different aspects, and HLD has just what I was looking for. The first component was the volunteer where we got to Jama and build 20 new homes for the community there. This was one of the most special and life changing experiences that i’ll never forget. The community worked along side us and we really got to build those connections with the people were building houses for. Although technically we’re the ones helping them get better access to education, sanitation, work, and healthcare, they have affected my life just as much as I have affected theirs.

HLD also has the learn component which is probably what differentiates it from most volunteer programs. We had the opportunity to shadow doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists in different wards of the hospital- something I know I would never be able to do in Canada. Getting to enter the operating room and watching surgeries was an unreal experience! We also did rotations in the ER, radiology, ICU, gynaecology, sports med, and even learned hands-on clinical skills like stitching.

For the discover portion we toured different parts of Ecuador and got to do really cool activities like waterfall rappelling, horseback riding, swinging at the end of the world, tubing down the mouth of the Amazon river, and hiking in the amazon jungle. I never thought we would do SO much everyday and even though its really busy sometimes, I wouldn't have wanted it any other day.

I also decided to add on an extra week to the Galapagos, and I can say this was hands down the best place I’ve travelled to in my life. The amount of biodiversity here is unbelievable and amazing to see how humans and animals just coexist- so we were able to see and get up close to so many different animals like giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sea lions, sharks, sea turtles, penguins, flamingos, sea horses, manta rays, and so on! The activities here were really amazing as well; other than chill at beautiful white sand beaches, we visited Darwin’s Research Centre, went snorkelling, kayaking, hiked a volcano with a huge crater under us. This was probably one of the best parts of the trip and I would highly recommend going!

The memories I’ve made because of this trip are ones I’ll never forget, and Juan and Jose will make sure you’re having the best time at all times!

Default avatar
Sam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The time of my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Prior to this trip, I had so many doubts if this trip would be worth it. I couldn't have been proved more wrong after spending the best month of my life with Help, Learn & Discover!! I don't even know where to begin.....from working with the community of Jama, or watching the most insane surgeries, or spending the morning trekking through the Amazon Rainforest, swimming in a natural waterfall pool at the end of a beautiful hike, then having dinner in the gorgeous city of Banos all in the same day!!!!!!! The thing is with this trip, you're doing at least 3 new things you've never done every single day!! All of these experiences are what I could have hoped for but to top it all of, the part I never saw coming was the people you meet on this trip! To this day, now some of my best friends are because I met them through HLD. Everyone was bawling their eyes out when it was time to say goodbye!!

During the volunteer week, the most heartwarming thing was to work with the community of Jama. These families have lost so much during the earthquake that happened in April but for them to wake up every day and work their butts off for the new homes that we were helping them build was simple admirable. The craziest part about interacting with them was seeing their spirit despite all the terrible things that have happened! They were always laughing and joking around, played soccer and other games with us in the evening and when it came time to say goodbye, they cooked us dinner and crafted us small souvenirs from wood and stone..! Words won't do the justice of telling how satisfying and heartwarming it was to bring hope to people who are way less fortunate than us. It also was a good reminder to be appreciative of our standard of living back in Canada!

The med rotations were unreal..! We shadowed almost every ward possible with the coolest med tutors who were in their final year of med school and were just a few years older than us! I saw the craziest vascular surgeries, live birth, a C-section, rhinoplasty, just to scratch the surface! The med tutors would also teach us some clinical skills like stitching and CPR. Every day was a blast learning the most amazing things that only further inspire me to become a physician.

The discover part was beyond unreal! Ecuador is one of the most beautiful countries ever!! Day to day, we did so many new things I can't even keep track of! I remember one day, the morning we spent in natural hot springs in the mountains, in the afternoon we tubed down the Napo River to get to our hotel located in the middle of the Amazon and at night we slept in cabins hearing the sounds of various animals and insects everywhere!!! Every day is action packed with the coolest adventures!

Simply put, this is one the best experiences out there! It wouldn't be right if I didn't give a shout out to Juan and Jose, the owners of HLD, who will go out of their way and move mountains for you to have the best experience possible!! The energy that they bring to the group really makes the trip special and they ensure everyone is having a blast!! We had people with dietary restrictions, allergies, medical conditions and they were all provided for..!! Ultimately this trip is totally worth what you're paying for and I can guarantee you that you will not regret it whatsoever!!!!!!

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Anonymous
6/10
No, I don't recommend this program

My Month with HLD

Hi guys, I know that most reviews here are extremely positive and I don't want to be a bummer here but my month with HLD wasn't at all what I expected or paid for. This trip comes out to about 7 thousand dollars at the end of it and there are other programs that have the same experience for way cheaper. Also, the owners of the program are very unsupportive of you if you do not have a specific type of personality. The volunteer week was great however for a great amount of time, we didn't have running water to wash our hands or flush our toilets. It was frustrating. The medical rotations part was decent because the med tutors were great, however they also felt terrified of their boss all the time because he was so vile and cruel. He has a god like complex and he has an ego bigger than the country itself. I spent so much money and had so much hope for this trip and it turned out to be a disappointment. I would look into other programs before I look into HLD.

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Savannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Most Rewarding Vacation

This trip is the perfect balance between hard, rewarding volunteer work, the excitement of touring a new country and carefree relaxing fun- my trip hadn't even ended before I started planning next year's return! This year I did the volunteer trip, and I will never forget the names or faces of those who we had the chance to build houses both for and with- the community of Jama will forever have a special place in my heart! I have so much respect for the way that this project approaches their volunteer work- we work side by side with those recieving the houses. It gave us a chance to immerse ourself in a new culture, make new friends, but most importantly to really gain an appreciation for why we travelled so many miles and spent so many hours fundraising to complete this project. We weren't simply gifting the community, but rather planting a seed for future sustainability.
As if that wasn't life changing enough, we travelled all throughout Ecuador, from volcanoes to beaches through the amazon and between some of the most unique cities and town I have ever seen. Everyday was filled with new activities and the chance to experience Ecuador's fantastic culture (not to mention great food!) Te amo Ecuador, and thank you forever to Ecuaexperience! .

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Jenna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible, life-changing experience!!

I had the most unbelievable experience participating on an HLD ecuaexperience program and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to travel, make a difference, learn about healthcare, or all of the above!

The 'help' aspect of the program was such an incredible opportunity. To be able to build houses for those in need and really make a difference in the lives of the people of Ecuador was such a rewarding experience and so much fun as well!

The 'learn' part of the program where we got to observe and learn different skills in the hospitals was so cool! I got to observe so many interesting surgeries, interact with patients in the emergency room, learn different skills and procedures, and so much more! I gained so much from this and it was such a unique opportunity that is hard to find anywhere else.

Then, there's the 'discover' portion, which was so incredible as well! Ecuador is such an amazing, beautiful, country with so much to offer. To be able to explore this country, learn about the culture, and participate in so many amazing activities like canyoning through waterfalls, staying in the jungle, and visiting volcanoes, was really amazing.

The experiences I had and the people I met on this program had such an incredible impact on me, and it really was life-changing!

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Anise
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Full Package

I found HLD by randomly researching different abroad, premed, volunteer programs online and I am so incredibly grateful that I decided to go with this one. The program's three components, helping, learning and discovering are really everything you could ever want in a trip. The traveling week was truly amazing. From the relaxing hot springs to the exciting hike through the Amazon jungle, there was never a dull moment. I made some very close friends on this trip who I am grateful to share these memories with. The volunteer week was very rewarding. It was hard work, but knowing the significant impact these new houses will have on the families in Jama makes every second worth it. We had the opportunity to go to a community where hundreds of families were living in tents because their homes were destroyed in the earthquake. Playing with the kids and seeing the pure joy on their faces despite all the hardships they are going through, truly put my life into perspective. Although the discover and help weeks were amazing, my favorite portion of the trip was the medical rotations. I have never had the opportunity to observe surgeries, take vitals on patients, go to a cadaver lab and learn hands-on skills like drawing blood and performing sutures before this trip. I learned so much from the amazing medical student tutors who were very friendly and informative. At school, sometimes I find myself doubting my career path while I am drowning in work, but this experience opened my eyes that all this hard work will be worth it in the end. I learned so much about the medical field on this trip, but also about myself. I would recommend this program to anyone!!

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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Trip of a Lifetime

I went on a program with help learn and discover in the summer of 2016. I can honestly say it is the most amazing experience I have had while travelling abroad. Each aspect of my trip was in incredible the guides were exceptional and so helpful. Something I found special about this trip was that all the leaders and guides were so passionate about the program which was really inspiring and made it so much more fun for everyone else. On my volunteer portion of my trip we stayed in Jama, Ecuador and helped a community build homes after an earthquake had impacted their city. Volunteering with this program is so rewarding because you become so involved in the community but at no point in the entire program did I feel unsafe. My favourite part of the trip was how close you become with the people you travel with. You make such great friends and it is definitely an experience I will never forget.

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Brittany
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the Best Things I Have Done for Myself

I will always consider myself incredibly lucky to have stumbled upon Help, Learn & Discover. I was looking for a medical, volunteer experience in a Spanish-speaking country, so when a spontaneous Google search introduced me to HLD, it felt meant to be. I took part in the pre-medical program and each component of my 21 days spent in Ecuador was amazing. I can sincerely say that the only part of the trip I disliked was having to say goodbye to the incredible people, culture, and adventures I fell in love with.

The Help component was one of the most rewarding parts of the trip. We spent a week in Jama, Ecuador working with the community to prepare concrete blocks for their new homes to sit upon. Although the recent earthquake made our living conditions less than ideal, I always felt taken care of and appreciated. Surprise “bun” breaks at the work site and evening trips to Canoa Beach were the perfect breaks from the hard, but rewarding, work. Lots of tears were shed on our last day in Jama when the families blessed us with gifts and lots of hugs. I am so happy to have played a part in giving twenty deserving families a new home.

The Learn component of the program allowed me to gain a unique perspective into the exciting world of healthcare. The medical students and physicians we shadowed were not only very informative, they were funny and very easy to get along with. I especially enjoyed the evening activities, which allowed us to learn how to draw blood, do sutures, give a physical examination, and take vitals.

Thinking about the Discover component of the trip still brings a smile to my face. I made a point of not researching any of the cities listed on the itinerary beforehand, and I am SO happy with that decision. Each day of the travel week was packed with a new and exciting adventure. From dancing on the bus, to fireworks around a campfire, to cruising around in a party bus, HLD incorporated a thoughtful surprise into each destination.

My only regret is not having signed up for a longer trip. If you have any doubts about signing up for next summer, please DON’T! It will be one of the best things you do for yourself! Everyone I met through HLD was so kind and helpful, especially the staff at 593 Hostel Boutique and our charming bus driver, Rubén. Lastly, I would like to give a big shout out to the two men responsible for HLD, Juan and José. I will always be grateful to them for reminding me that helping others is one of the best ways to live our lives.

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Meredith
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I already want to go back!!!

I challenge anyone to find an experience that can top the one I had with Help, Learn & Discover. I can’t remember a single moment on this trip when I wasn’t smiling or laughing constantly, and looking back, I have nothing but fond memories. The 3 aspects of the trip encompassed absolutely everything I could have dreamed of (plus more!), and I know I’ll remember these experiences for the rest of my life. Without sounding too cliché, you truly will learn so much about yourself on this trip, and you will return with a new perspective on life.

The Help portion was incredible. It was truly humbling to work alongside the community in Jama to build homes for the most deserving families you will ever meet. The locals were so grateful for everything that we did, and knowing that you have a made a difference in their lives is an indescribable feeling.

The Learn portion of this trip—the medical rotations—was so cool. Not only will you be scrubbing into surgeries and literally watching operations over the surgeons’ shoulders, but you will also interact with patients in the Emergency Room, partake in medical hands-on learning sessions, and all throughout you will have medical tutors teaching and explaining things to you. During this portion of the trip, you see what the medical profession is really about. Before HLD, I thought I was interested in medicine. But after participating in this portion of the trip, I now know without a doubt that this is the field that I love!

The final component of this trip, the Discover portion, was one you will never forget. Ecuador is absolutely spectacular; from the rainforest to the coast to the volcanoes and mountains, this country truly has it all. It’s hard to believe how much of Ecuador you get to experience on this trip, but somehow HLD manages it!

On top of the trip itself, you will meet people who will change your life. This is one of my favourite aspects of this trip. Everyone you meet—from the program directors, to the tour guides, to the volunteers alongside you, to the leaders, and everyone in between—will impact your life. I started my 28 days in Ecuador with a group of strangers, but left Ecuador with a new family.

I can definitely vouch for HLD and all the experiences that come along with it. Go on this trip, and I promise you won’t regret it!

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Justin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Trip of a Lifetime

I don't even know where to begin when it comes to telling people about Help Learn and Discover. Everything about the trip was absolutely spectacular, and I don't think I'll ever forget some of the experiences I've had. I met amazing people, gained valuable experience in a unique learning environment, and travelled to parts of South America that took my breath away all accompanied with the priceless satisfaction of improving the lives of those in need.

I would highly recommend HLD to anyone looking to volunteer abroad. The passion for helping others that staff and organizers express is inspirational to say the least, and to see how far the organization has come and how many people they have helped is incredible. It's a wonderful feeling got be a part of such an organization, and I'm very proud whenever I tell people about the work the company has done. Especially after seeing the damage and destruction that the earthquake in April caused to parts of Ecuador, it's clear that many people still need help and HLD does just that by building sustainable houses.

I was part of one of the the pre-med trips this past summer, and the experience you get as part of the pre-med learning component is next to impossible to find anywhere in Canada. We were actually inside the operating rooms, or conversing with patients in ER, or gaining first-hand practical experience that would otherwise only be taught in med schools. These experiences are all extremely valuable to anyone considering medicine, as it was a lot like a trial run of what med school and practicing as a physician would be like, minus the stress of applications and grades and what not. You learn a lot, but in a fun and engaging environment.

The final component of the trip, which involved travelling around Ecuador with options to travel to Galapagos and Peru was one of my favourite travelling experiences, and for someone my age I've travelled a lot. HLD knows all of the best sites and places to visit in Ecuador. You see a very large portion of the country in a relatively small period of time. From snowcapped mountains, to the amazon, then to the beach and back. I had a hard time keeping up with the beauty of the country, and was grateful that I chose HLD to show me all the amazing parts of Ecuador.

Help Learn and Discover gave me an amazing experience, looking back I don't remember a time when I was dissatisfied or upset. Anyone looking for any volunteer experience should seriously look into HLD.

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Donia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD Till I Die

My time in Ecuador was truly life changing. I made great friends, got to travel all over the country and make a difference in peoples lives, and I was able to gain some hands on experience in a hospital setting throughout my medical rotations. HLD does a phenominal job at sticking to the 3 words it stands for: Help, Learn and Discover. This program has managed to incorporate these three things to give students the best time of their lives whether they come for 17 days, 21 days, or 28 days. I did the 28 day program and couldn't be any happier and satisfied with my experience.

Help - this was by far my favorite part of the trip. I got to make personal connections with the locals and the community we were working with while helping them build their homes. This year was really important to me and the others I think because of the earthquake that happened months ago. It affected many communities, so volunteering and working on site meant so much more to us and the community. The work is physically demanding and fun and I wish it was longer than a week because I could spend the whole month there, but the locals were very welcoming and all of the hard work we did is really paying off and helping the program move one step closer to completing the project.

Learn - since I was in the 28 day program I got to do 2 weeks of medical rotations. The tutors were awesome and they provided us with a lot of valuable information and made sure that we were learning and enjoying all of the activities that they had planned for us. We learned how to take vitals, how to read an ECG, how to do CPR, how to stitch, how to take blood and many more things. We got to sit in on surgeries and work with patients in the emergency room. My favourite part was the fact that we were able to scrub in and watch surgeries in the operating room and ask our tutors any question that we had and they were always ready to help and explain. This part of the trip was very important for me because it really helped me find areas in the medical field that I enjoyed, which will further help me once I start applying to medical school. This part of the trip exceeded my expectations and I couldn't have imagined anything better.

Discover - This was another one of my favorite times. I really enjoyed traveling around from city to city and staying at places that I didn't even know existed. Ecuador is a beautiful country and luckily we got to see a lot of cool things. From water falls to tubing down the Napo river, hiking in the Amazon jungle, and horse backing riding to active volcanos, it truly was some of the best times of my life. The night life was always so fun and all of the hostels we stayed at were also amazing and made the experience that much better.

Taking a look back at the four weeks I spent with HLD, I can't say a single thing that I wish we had done differently. I have made life long friends on this trip and I can't express enough how much this trip changed my life. the leaders, activities, and experiences were all perfect. I think I smiled 24 hours a day on this trip! I definitely recommend it to everyone!

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Rachel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Month with HLD

Help, Learn, and Discover has made such an impact on my life and will continue to influence my life beyond the conclusion of the program. The program does an amazing job of giving students a taste of three areas that I am very passionate about.

The Help aspect of the program was a truly life changing experience. Especially after the earthquake, it was incredible to experience all of the students and community coming together to rebuild in the community of Jama. The fact that all of the money was fundraised by the students makes this experience even more rewarding knowing that we were able to make a difference both financially and physically at the worksite. The worksite conditions were one of the most impactful parts of the volunteer program. It was really eye opening to see how the members of the community had been living since the earthquake happened and it really made the experience so much more rewarding knowing that we were not living in conditions above the community. We were living in tents without good showers or wifi, just as how the community has been living for months. It really made the students and community members come together during this week of volunteering. The days of volunteering were always hard work, but very worth it. We did lots of concrete mixing, sanding, and painting of the shipping containers that were used to create earthquake-proof homes.

The Learn portion allows students to experience so many areas of the medical field to broaden their scope of knowledge and help them to decide if medicine is the right decision for them, and further, which area of medicine interests them the most. The tutors are incredibly knowledgable and helpful throughout all of the rotations and the evening activities. A mock medicine interview, stitching, ECG, and blood draw are just a few of the activities that are done in addition to shadowing in many different wards of the hospital such as the ER, OR, radiology, and sports medicine. The students are able to get a lot of hands-on experience and see so many cool things up close in the hospitals! The variety of healthcare programs also allows you to tailor your trip to your interests by offering pre-medical, pre-dental, and physio programs! I have only experienced how amazing the pre-medical program is, but I have heard from other students that the pre-dental and physio programs are incredible as well!

The Discover portion was a blast! We did everything from tubing down the Napo river, hiking in the jungle, waterfall rappelling, swinging at the edge of the world, and salsa dancing! Each different part of the country we went to had something unique to offer and had it's own individual beauty. All of the activities we did were so much fun and we all learned so much about the culture and country of Ecuador. I was also able to to an extra week to the Galapagos which was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. The Galapagos islands are incredibly beautiful with so much biodiversity and beautiful landscapes. We were able to snorkel with sea turtles, sharks, tropical fish, and the list goes on! We also went kayaking and experienced some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and were able to see a giant tortoise sanctuary. The Galapagos is definitely a must-see if you're going to be travelling to South America!

I have nothing else to say about this program except that it is incredible! The owners Juan and Jose are always making sure to give the students the best experience possible and are tons of fun to travel with for the month. Definitely check out HLD if you have been considering travelling abroad!